Saturday, August 16, 2014

Writing, dreaming and sensing after the death of my Mother by Odilia RIvera-Santos

Grief has many tentacles. they tighten around your heart & throat, leaving you awake when you should sleep and pull you under when you should be awake. I really missed my mother today; the strong beautiful tall fragrant version of Her.

After my mother died, my sisters and I were in my parents' home, and the stillness was overwhelming. The hours spent in prayer, the endless Catholic vigils, and steady visitors offering condolences really cleansed the suffering from the space. My sister came out of my mother's bedroom and asked who was wearing perfume.
None of us was wearing perfume but we all smelled the overpowering scent -- flowers ... the smell of flowers enveloped us in our grief. I was sad, especially thinking about the things I wished she had done and the person I wished she could have been. But those are selfish notions, unrealistic and a means to injure my own psyche more. My mother was a traditional Puerto Rican woman, respectable, faithful to the vows of marriage and committed to a relationship in a way I could never understand and perhaps never imitate.

flowers keep following me at times when I miss her and want her to let me sit on her lap until I fall asleep like when I was a little girl and kept falling asleep with gum in my mouth, which caused cavities and the dreaded visit to the dentist.
On Thursday, I was talking to some friends about her and the familiar aroma filled the room and I looked around to make sure and sure enough . .. no one was holding flowers. And the fragrance came on too suddenly to be a mundane thing.
Along with this beautiful perfume, there was a sense of childlike joy, which entered my mind and warmed me up for a couple of seconds as if I were receiving an embrace.

And I know she wants me to let go of the grief I carry over wanting her to have seen more and done more and been 'liberated' in a way I thought would have made her happy, but that is selfish.
In 2001, when I was trying to convince her of something and we were wrestling as we often did, she said "Everyone has a right to live the way they want."

I had to shut up and remember the wisdom she could impart in her calm stoic way.
She was very strong and beautiful.

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